AOTY 2020


Gruff Rhys - Babelsberg
Critic Score
Based on 20 reviews
2018 Ratings: #182 / 830
User Score
Based on 39 ratings
June 8, 2018 / Release Date
LP / Format
Rough Trade / Label / Website
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Babelsberg ... is Rhys’ great leveller, perhaps the first record of his career that doesn’t demand a quadrophonic sound system, a slide show, a detailed explanation or a knowing wink. It’s warm and weird, but suddenly no stranger than the world around it. In surreal times, he finally makes sense.

Northern Transmissions

For Babelsberg Rhys is as comical as he is brilliant in his writing, and crafts an album that merges modern ideas with a vintage energy.

The Line of Best Fit

Having traversed a myth-laced American Interior on his previous solo album, Gruff Rhys now ventures out to Babelsberg, a realm of unsettled atmospheres, future frontiers and selfies taken in blazing sunsets.

If 2014’s ‘American Interior’ was a historical search for enlightenment in the undiscovered, ‘Babelsberg’ looks at Rhys’ world as it is now, externally and internally.
Loud and Quiet
‘Babelsberg’ is the cinematic soundtrack of one man’s minor failures and awkward episodes, delivered with a shrug and a rueful smile.

Babelsberg is another great effort from the always distinguished singer/songwriter. Specifically, Rhys trades some of his characteristic quirkiness, colorfulness, and experimentation for classier and more unified slices of orchestral pop. In doing so, he offers a wise and mature sequence whose refined yet complex splendor allows it to achieve its own identity while also offering enough trademark elements to entice fans of his past triumphs.

You can’t really imagine a better soundtrack for the end of the world.
It’s a record in its creator’s image; curious, insightful, eclectic and - most of all - good fun, against the odds.
The Guardian

Like Forever Changes ... one keeps wondering whether an album so dismally inclined should be such a pleasure to listen to.


Rhys' words may be filled with dread but his music offers solace in its deftly executed songcraft and reassuring soft focus, which means Babelsberg can soothe the very emotions it stirs up.

The result is a rich, nuanced pop album that feels like something French from the late ’60s.

In the unsettled universe of Babelsberg, this is the way the world ends—not with a bang but a self-satisfied finger tap.

Under The Radar
Whether or not it's a world that one would choose, Rhys gives it a better soundtrack than it probably deserves.

Babelsberg's ten songs comprise a confident, fully realized soundtrack to a quasi-fictional dystopia.

FLOOD Magazine
The songs feel like they were given time to soak, and lyrically he’s more pointed here (for better or for worse) than in much of his discography.
The Independent
Not a record that’s going to change your opinion of Rhys should you have one already, but a welcome step in a more expansive direction for the Welshman.
With 'Babelsberg,' Gruff Rhys traverses a variety of eras and styles. The result is an album brimming with energy and emotion.

When the opening track, "Frontier Man" kicks in with its soaring melodies and the soothing vocals of Rhys and the backup singers, you instantly know you are in for a treat. "The Club" is an infectious number that, while erring on the side of cheesiness, is still a thoroughly enjoyable ride. The cheesiness can be somewhat of a hindrance, but when ... read more
This album is good at the best of times, but this album doesn't sound like a proper album. If I'm honest, Oh Dear! is great and Frontier Man is quite jolly. But songs like Limited Edition Heart and Same Old Song just don't cut it for me.
Love this, musically Bacharach, Scott and beat influences. When the end of the world is night this album is going on. Highlights Limited Edition Heart, Architect of Amnesia, Selfies in the sunset and the Club.
I really, really wanted to love this album. It's just a little, disappointing. Not bad, just a little less grand than I was expecting.

The mild critical hype around this album, exclaiming it is the best thing in his career is just not true and perhaps it hurts the album by saying so. If you're a fan of Gruff Rhys, you'll most probably enjoy this album to some extent. Nothing too exciting, but it's pleasant enough to listen to. It's familiar territory for him, but it should have been more with ... read more
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Track List

  1. Frontier Man
  2. The Club
  3. Oh Dear!
  4. Limited Edition Heart
  5. Take That Call
  6. Drones in the City
  7. Negative Vibes
  8. Same Old Song
  9. Architecture of Amnesia
  10. Selfies in the Sunset
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Added on: April 10, 2018